Anger after Brit is executed in China

A British man convicted of drug smuggling in China has been executed, the Foreign Office confirmed today.

A British man convicted of drug smuggling in China has been executed, the Foreign Office confirmed today.

Akmal Shaikh is the first EU national to be executed in the country in more than 50 years.

China remained defiant today in the face of condemnation from the UK government and human rights campaigners amid claims he was suffering from mental health issues.

The Chinese embassy in London said Shaikh, 53, from Kentish Town, north London, had "no previous medical record" of mental illness and that his rights and interests had been properly respected.

Shaikh, who was convicted of smuggling 4kg of heroin into the country, was executed in the early hours of this morning despite last minute pleas for clemency from his family and campaigners.

A statement from the Chinese Embassy said: "During the legal process, Mr Shaikh's rights and interests were properly respected and guaranteed and the concerns of the British side were duly noted and taken into consideration by the Chinese judicial authorities.

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"Out of humanitarian consideration, visas were granted to the two cousins of Mr Shaikh on Boxing Day, and they were given access to meeting Mr Shaikh in China.

"As for his possible mental illness which has been much talked about, there apparently has been no previous medical record.'

The statement was issued after Gordon Brown said he was "appalled' and "disappointed' by the execution and offered his condolences to the Shaikh family.

Health Secretary Andy Burnham said he was "deeply saddened' and described the execution as "abhorrent'.

"When I woke up this morning and heard that it had happened I felt desperately sorry and deeply saddened for friends and family,' he told GMTV.

"I think we need to condemn it in the strongest possible terms.

"For an individual with mental health problems to be executed in this way is really quite abhorrent.

"The Prime Minister has made his views explicitly clear about what has happened and those will be communicated to the Chinese authorities.'